Luxury Wine Brands on Twitter

11:58 am Wine

After a fascinating conversation with some winemakers at Taste Washington last weekend, I was prompted to hold an informal poll about luxury wine brands on Twitter. I posed a simple question to wine industry tweeters and bloggers: “Should luxury wine brands use Twitter as part of their social media strategy?” 

At the time, I did not provide my opinion, but I will now: My personal belief is that luxury wine brands should use Twitter as part of an overall social media strategy. But success depends on how Twitter is used. In my opinion, Twitter is an extension of a tasting room – a way to listen to customers, share information and build relationships, brand loyalty and brand advocacy.

I think this holds true for all brands – from large corporations to small wineries. For example, a few months ago, I authored a white paper on how Fortune 100 companies use Twitter. While 73 percent of Fortune 100 companies had Twitter accounts, about three-quarters of those accounts did not post tweets very often, and 52 percent were not actively engaged. And 26 percent only used Twitter as a one-way stream to broadcast information, rather than to listen and build relationships.

In my informal Twitter poll earlier this week, almost everyone shared my opinion. Within a couple of hours, 20 people (from Washington state, California, Texas, New Jersey and Oklahoma) responded in 33 tweets. It was an almost-unanimous yes – but the reasons were diverse and a great discussion took place in 140 characters!

My favorite response came from Paul Mabray in Napa: “Twitter is a utility like the phone. Every brand should answer the phone. How u answer is the key.”

Tom Wark, also from Napa, gave this wise response: “Yes. But it’s not the vehicle for communication that counts. It’s the message and the recipients.”

Other people – whose experience ranged from winemakers to wine bloggers – believe that all brands can benefit because Twitter can help wineries:

  • increase brand awareness
  • engage with customers
  • build brand loyalty
  • connect with the younger demographic of future wine enthusiasts
  • build a social media presence for marketing purposes
  • leverage the accessibility provided by Twitter
  • reach audiences of all economic levels
  • cost-effectively reach journalists
  • expand value to current and future customers
  • shape the brand’s future with real-time feedback
  • maintain reputation
  • influence the “special occasion” bottle purchase

The results were “almost” unanimous because Tom Lee agreed that while luxury brands should generally be on Twitter, there is one exception – the luxury brands that produce small quantities of wine that will sell out by virtue of reputation and do not participate in any kind of marketing. I agree with Tom.

So thanks to all of you who participated in my informal poll – pmabray, joelvincent, NWTomLee, tomcwark, RickBakas, nectarwine, winebeerWA, WineInkByTia, vinotology, hardrow, avvwinery, hornOKplease, writerkathymcd, winebratsf, fieryonetoo, SFDoug, dreawinetrain, Shona425wino4ever and HughL.

Let’s continue the conversation!

Cheers!

4 Responses
  1. writeforwine :

    Date: April 2, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    The Comment feature on this blog is having tech difficulties, so Paul Mabray asked me to post his comment:

    From Paul Mabray – @pmabray on Twitter:

    Thanks for the kind mention and call out of my sound bite.

    The internet itself poses interesting challenges to exclusive luxury brands (in and out of the wine industry)> The feeling of exclusive is diametrically opposed to the Internet’s ethos of accessibility. This is especially true of social media. How do you stay exclusive in an inclusive medium?

    As to participation in Twitter for exclusive brands like Harlan, Screaming Eagle, and more I disagree with Tom Lee. A company at the minimum should be “listening” to conversations about their brand. That free business intelligence is invaluable. More importantly the medium is filled with all types of people from all parts of the industry. How unfortunate would it be if they miss Jancis Robinson, Doug Frost, or Mark deVere saying something (positive or negative) about their wine? Or more importantly what if someone like Peter Granoff, a respected and quality wine buyer, made mention of their wine? Their followup does not need to be via Twitter, but hearing the message might. Use the analogy of a message machine at the home office and the follow-up coming from your cell phone.

    “Twitter is a utility like the phone. Every brand should answer the phone. How u answer is the key.”

    — Paul Mabray

  2. writeforwine :

    Date: April 2, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    Paul makes some interesting points and now I’m torn between his comments and Tom Lee’s.

    That being said, a winery could set up alerts in Google and Tweet Beep, and still listen to the conversation.

    I’m not suggesting that’s what they do – I stand firm that it’s important to be on Twitter for the reasons outlined in my post. And I do think Twitter is an extension of the tasting room.

    It’s been an interesting discussion and I look forward to hearing from more of you!
    Cheers,
    Margot

  3. Heather McNeil :

    Date: April 2, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

    Love this conversation. I believe EVERY winery should be on Twitter, even the Harlan’s and the Screaming Eagles of the world. If you are small production and sell out every year, I am happy for you. But let us not forget,NOTHING is a guarantee year to year, in wine as in life. To assume you will always sell out, is to believe the game never changes, and to believe that, is a game-changer in and of itself!

  4. Mark Vice :

    Date: June 12, 2010 @ 9:32 am

    Great post!